Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Repaying the money...

The financial scandal at the moment is enough to make anyone angry. It seems like every politician could barely resist taking advantage of the rules, and worse, that none of them seem to think they've done anything wrong! Yes many of them may not have broken the rules, but if ANY politician gets to the point where they have to repay 13,000 pounds, they shouldn't be bloody politicians anymore. As many people have pointed out, benefit fraudsters steal peanuts compared to this, and may well use loopholes to get out of it. They'll lie, say they forgot... and end up in prison. These MPs should count themselves lucky we do not luck all the bastards up. I know this rhetoric is all a bit tabloidish, but I really think politicians have been living in a bubble where they think things that clearly are not acceptable are fine, and they need to be shook up. Getting rid of Michael Martin is fine, but it's pretty clear that he's nothing but a scapegoat. I want to see politicians start going, including Hazel Blears.

On another note, I will say that I really don't see that much wrong with J Prescott asking for a new toilet seat- it was part of a plumbing bill, and one would assume that toilet seats are in fact fairly essential if one wishes to use a toilet....

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Whack a kitty

Little bit adorable...

Ladies and gentlemen

Meet the spy

Monday, May 18, 2009

Buffy Season 4

Season 4 is where some Buffy fans claim Buffy went downhill. The gang left high school, and were going to college, there was no more Angel, and soon no more Oz. I rather have a soft spot for it, however. It's true that the main plot doesn't quite work- the Initiative is a little bit amateur for a government organisation, and Maggie Walsh would have made a much better long term villain than Adam did. Still, this season contains some of the best and funniest episodes Buffy ever created, with some decent insight into the characters. I never particularly missed Angel, who felt out of place in the third season, and quite enjoyed Riley, a character who admittedly does not have much to work with (people like to blame Mark Blucas, but there's really not much going on- the only time Riley gets to be funny is in season 5..), and in many ways is very similar to Tara- someone who exists to be the partner rather than a character in their own right.

Tara, of course, brings another daring move from Buffy, a gay character, but not only that, making one of the main cast gay. How it happens feels entirely natural, despite some baffling claims that Willow can't be gay because she was with Oz (because there exist no gay people who initially enter into straight relationships. Or even get married). I really love the Willow Tara relationship, and the cutesy magic=sex metaphor that is used to get round bizarre American standards (no, it's ok they're orgasming from the spell... it's fiiine).

Tara isn't the only new character here- Spike and Anya become very interesting in this series. Spike absolutely shines here, as a soulless creature forced to do good, he consistently makes you laugh, and his character gets a lot of development ready for the next season. Anya meanwhile enters an amusing and awkward relationship with Xander, that grows into something very strong.

So, funniest episodes? Well theres a lot to choose from. Most episodes are infused with humour- the hilarious denouement of Fear Itself, the otherwise rather poor Beer Bad. Episodes that consistently bring the funny are Pangs, a New Man, Superstar AND Something Blue. My personal favourite is probably Pangs, as this is one of the first episodes that has Spike interacting with everyone else.

The best episode is a hard pick here- I'm going to say Hush, because it's such a wonderful episode, Joss Whedon proving the beauty of Buffy is not just about the dialogue, as he strips the words away and still crafts an amazing episode. Honourable mention must be given to Who Are You, an episode all about who Faith is, and her learning about who Buffy is as well.

Worst episodes? Thats not hard- Where the Wild things Are really is a filler episode that adds nothing (unless Buffy Riley sex counts), and Beer Bad's moral screams itself out from the fricking title.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Genre savvy and stressed decisions

One of the most frustrating things I have encountered, amongst many friends and acquaintances is when watching a film or television, they will berate the characters for not making a particular decision. "Why didn't they just do that?" They'll inquire.

Now this is an easy mistake to make, and it's something I have indulged in, and sometimes it's an accurate criticism. Sometimes characters do act like colossal idiots. But here's the thing: we all act like colossal idiots all the time. We often don't think things through, we rarely make decisions based on all the facts, and if someone was to watch our lives they'd probably make exactly the same criticisms.

Often in these films it will be during points of high stress that characters will make these choices, when they don't have time to think through their actions, and they are not thinking rationally. It's impossible to know what one would do under such a situation until actually being encountered with it, so making sweeping generalisations can be foolish. Added to this is the fact that they don't know they're in a horror film- splitting up is not always a terrible decision, especially if you do not know that there is a dark horror waiting to devour your souls around the corner.

Ultimately I'm usually willing to give characters a break- their acting stupidly isn't always the writers making their lives easier- sometimes its them following through on the characters.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

roleplaying joke

Well, not joke, but only for roleplayers- here's a flaw that should be incorporated into every system.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Amazon reviews

I was linked via meta-filter to a blog which shows 1 star reviews for much loved films. Amoungst these reviews, I noticed a theme in utterly inane and hilarious critisism by Chris Tyrell... enjoyable stuff!


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Buffy Season 3

Season 3 is probably the best in my opinion. The characters have matured and become more interesting, there are some fun plot arcs, some brilliant stand alone episodes, a brilliant villain in the mayor, and the scarred character of Faith all bring this together.

The only main weakness of this season, is, for me, Angel. I seemed to be alone amoungst many of my friends who also watched the show in cheering him leaving the show. Their relationship produced a lot of angst I found tiresome. I also found their relationship flimsy- the classic teenage first love thing, where they had very little in common (indeed they rarely had any real conversations other than fighting evil). While I have become detached from my irritation at Buffy/Angel angst in season 2, primarily because the arc serves a purpose, in season 3 is seems to be an opportunity to whine a lot, and set Angel up for his (very good) spin off show.

So, that aside, lets have a look at the episodes.

There's some extremely funny episodes here. My personal favourite is "The Zeppo", an episode focusing on the evolution of Xander's character (which does change. Buffy does suffer from the problem that writers forget about character growth, but Xander does noticably improve as time goes on). By following Xander entirely, we get a lovely little story, with the amusing back drop of the others fighting the apocalypse at the same time.

Theres a lot of humour in all the episodes, although the other main standouts are Band Candy and Doppelgangland (which also expands Anya's character, who soon becomes my favourite on the show).

Best episodes is tough, because there are so many. My favourite is definitely the Wish, a look at an alternate reality without Buffy, extremely bleak and giving us a clear message that what she does matter, but the bleak ending of Bad Girls is brilliant, and as always the concluding episode (Graduation Day Part 2) is fantastic (even if it doesn't make a great deal of sense).

Worst episodes here are Dead Man's Party, which really bothers me. Buffy ran away from home at the end of last season, and returns to recriminations. All the characters have legitimate grievances, although they are necessarily harsh to Buffy, but sadly none of this is ever resolved, instead a zombie ex machina bonds them together...

Another weak episode is Amends, which is a set up for the Angel spin off. My main issue with it is that divine intervention is the only thing that saves Angel here: Buffy's heartfelt pleas are completely sidelined.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Buffy Season 2

Season 2 is where Buffy begins to seriously grow up. Some bad things happen here, and it's the first season where metaphors begin to play a big role in the show. While some of the villains in season 1 obviously represented some concepts (the pack being peer pressure, I robot you Jane being awful), here we have entire plot arcs representing metaphors- Angel turning into a soulless fiend after Buffy sleeps with him being about guys changing after having sex with you (this is made explicit in season 4 with Parker, an interesting contrast), and there's even a metaphor for homosexuality here, with Buffy coming out to her Mum about being a slayer, and then feeling rejected because of it.

Sadly, this is also the season of terrible accents. Spike and Drusilla, while excellent characters, sport appalling accents (while Spike's gets better as James Masters settles into the role, Drusilla's, if anything, gets worse). Then there's Kendra the vampire slayer, who's accent makes me want to cry. I know it's a minor thing, but it's hard to pay attention to the plot when accents are ruining everything- Passions is an excellent episode (and the first EXTREMELY dark moment for the series), but it does have an irish accent in it, which I could have lived without. Still, there are some excellent episodes here-

This season starts having some funny episodes as well. "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" sees Xander casting a misfiring love spell to get revenge on Cordelia, which gives us some hilarious moments as well as some touching character moments. Quite frequently the humorous episodes in Buffy will give us insights into characters and plot. The other episode worthy of mention is "Halloween" , where the characters become their costumes, leading to Buffy being helpless, and Xander being strong, with Willow being the only person who knows whats going on.

The stand out episodes of the season are probably Innocence, where we learn of Angel's curse, and, of course, get to see a rocket launcher in action, and Becoming Part 2, a brilliant battle between Angel and Buffy, this episode features everything that makes the show great.

Worst episode? There are a few stinkers here, and they're mostly the stand alone ones. My least favourite is probably reptile boy, which has a tiresome moral message to impart, and a hokey evil villain. It also features Buffy's amazing variable powers, which are utterly dependent on the plot...

Labels: ,

Friday, May 01, 2009

Buffy the vampire slayer- the best and the worst (will contain spoilers): Season 1

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my favourite shows of all time, possessing wit and intelligence beyond many other programs, and exceeding most people's expectations of it. Certainly it had a slightly shaky start- some of the monster of the week episodes in season 1 are pretty terrible, but come season 2 it soon became it's own creature. So, for fun and profit, I have decided to list the funniest, the best, and the worst episodes from each season. Because I'm weird like that.

Season 1

This, as mentioned above, was not the strongest season, with the majority of its episodes being silly and stand alone, with rather hokey ideas.

The worst episode by far is probably "I, Robot... You, Jane" which shows a stunning lack of understanding of the internet, leading to a rather embarrassing story all round.

While many of the episodes are amusing, few are actually deliberately funny, so I'll just skip to the best episodes. These are easily the first and the last. Welcome to the Hellmouth
is a great introduction to the world of Buffy, which, with a few missteps along the way (some weird dialogue, Xander's skateboard and the soon to be eaten Jesse), ably lets us into the world of Buffy. Prophecy Girl
is in many ways where the show grows up a bit, with Buffy accepting her destiny, facing it and kicking evil in the face repeatedly.

Labels: ,